Empowering consumers to relate to a brand in their own personal way is the new horizon of innovation. Creating imaginative product ideas that allow consumers to explore, create and share is a new extension of real time co-creation. Brands can learn from these new co-creations and deploy new vectors of growth, based on new product ideas. The opportunities are endless.
Coca-Cola tested its Freestyle vending machines in 2009 and is rolling out the machines in the US this year. The machines offer consumers a touch-screen with an incredible 100+ different beverage choices ranging from Diet Cherry Coke to Dasani waters. Customers can even create their own combinations of flavours. Already, Coke lists a portfolio of more than 3,500 beverages, from diet and regular sparkling beverages to still beverages on its website.
In today’s mature markets, a popular strategy has been to take mass customization to the next level, to create highly personalized brand experiences for existing products. Coke has launched apps for social networks that allow consumers to create and name their own drinks. In the future, it may be possible for an app to create a bar code for a customized flavour that a vending machine can create.
Customization is driving collaborative consumption
The buzz word for C2C (Consumer to Consumer) commerce is 'collaborative consumption'. An example is Airbnb. Less than four years old since launch, the website provides accommodations in nearly 11,000 cities in 180 countries. According to Inc Magazine, Airbnb’s popularity has exploded recently, growing more than 800% last year. Airbnb reports it has booked 1.6 million night stays in other people’s homes to date. Airbnb allows its members to customize their vacaction accomodations based on a number of variables.
Five steps to deploy collaborative consumption
1. Explore surprising vectors of innovation of your products.
2. Define the relevance of these vectors. Which ones delight customers?
3. Create an experiential component to the brand. How will customers create unique experiences for themselves?
4. Create communication channels to allow customers to share ideas and innovations.
5. Stay true to the brand position. Look for innovations that reinforce the brand idea.
What other examples of mass customization are working for brands?